Saturday, March 31, 2007

General Conference

This weekend marks the 177th annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Listen in if you'd like

Ridin' Shotgun in Range Magazine

From the Spring 2007 edition of Range magazine comes a really great article written by Jeff Goodson, a soldier currently on his second tour in Afghanistan. Three paragraphs in particular jumped out at me,

One of the biggest concerns over here-besides getting home in one piece-is the level of commitment for the war back home. Things were pretty subdued after last fall's US elections. Most folks are here because they want to be, and there's a lot of concern that the new American Congress will starve the war effort for political or ideological reasons.

People are optimistic that we can drag Afghanistan into the 20th, if not the 21st, century,and neuter its ability to serve as a training ground and base of operations for our enemies. But you can't win a war on the cheap, especially this war. Realistically, it's going to take years of military and development assistance-roads, power, schools, clinics, business training, capacity building-to bring Afghanistan to the point where a boy who comes of age here wants to marry and raise a family, rather than blow himself up at the urging of his religious leaders.

Building that kid's future is our job. We need a sustained commitment from the American people, though, to do it.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Soledad & Andres Calamaro

Mana: Como Dueles En Los Labios

My New Pal Geoffrey

Geoffrey strikes again. Read through his latest post and you'd probably think he and I had been arguing about the US Attorney firings, or maybe we were discussing conservatism vs liberalism, or the Bush administration's job performance. Nope, none of the above.

In truth, we were talking about the Gathering of Eagles, or as Geoffrey characterized them, Gathering of Pathetic Pseudo-Patriots. As I wrote before, Geoffrey mischaracterized them and their motivations, and I proved it to him. When faced with the facts, he threw a temper tantrum. Sadly, he still does not see his error.

The larger lesson here is that some people are so partisan, so full of hate and venom, that they can't entertain a single rational thought. Once you are pegged as a "con-servative wingnut" or a "socialist liberal", forget it. You get nothing but Geoffrey's. (As in, you just pulled a Geoffrey. That's what I'm calling it from now on.)

I mean, take a look at his rationale for ignoring the topic:

"True believers, be they Islamic terrorists, Christian fundamentalists, or Republicans, are always dangerous."

Are you kidding me?! In Geoffrey's world Republicans and terrorists are equal. The absurdity would be amusing if it wasn't so disappointing. He has singled out a huge portion of this nation's citizens and deemed them somehow less than he is. They are nothing more than murdering terrorists, and should be shunned. This attitude is silly, stupid, and dangerous.

Geoffrey writes,

"You don't like it that I refuse to listen to your complaints about a few anarchists at a protest rally?"

No, no, and no. He continues to completely miss the point, or at least forget what it was he was writing about in the first place. He pulled a Geoffrey on the Gathering of Eagles' counter-protest. I called him on it and he pulled another Geoffrey, and he continues to pull Geoffreys even now.

I don't care what he thinks of conservatism, or President Bush, or the Attorney General. What I do care about is his blatant and angry mischaracterizations of a group of protesters. They are mostly veterans, many still bearing the scars from the angry protests 35 years ago. They organized themselves in order to protect the monuments erected to memorialize the sacrifices they made. They were largely successful in providing that protection and in showing solidarity and support for the current crop of US armed forces and returning veterans.

The fact that this demonstration of support is needed is exemplified by the flag and soldier burning actions which occured that same day on the other side of the country. Though the other 15,000 peace protesters stood by and allowed the few to mar their march, you can be sure that had the Eagels gathered in Portland that day, none of those videos and pictures being circulated by the republicans/terrorists would even exist. For I doubt very much that the cowards would have had the courage to light fires and chant chants with a few thousand veterans standing watch.

You see, Geoffrey, those that oppose you are no more "pathetic pseudo-patriots" than you are. Maybe someday you'll grow to understand that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Render Them Hostile To Bush..."

NBC reported on their blog about 2 Pakistani boys who were recruited to be jihadists. The way that they were lured into becoming "freedom fighters" and suicide bombers is educational.

"We were told to fight against Israel, America and non-Muslims," said Muhammed Bakhtiar, 17, explaining why he wanted to become a suicide bomber. "We are so unhappy with our lives here. We have nothing," he said.

The terrorist recruiters preyed upon the boys' unhappiness and turned it into hatred. Hatred so intense and indoctrinated that the boys became willing to kill and die for it. This is not new. These are the tactics that terrorist groups have used for a long time.

What is interesting is that terrorist recruiters are not settling for poor Pakistani youth. They are also spreading their lies and hatred in the United States.

According to websites translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), terrorists are being instructed on how to join online discussion groups and blogs in order to influence US citizens' opinions on the war on terror and specifically our actions in Iraq.

Some excerpts:

"There is no doubt, my brothers, that raiding American forums is among the most important means of obtaining victory in the fierce media war... and of influencing the views of the weak-minded American who pays his taxes so they will go to the infidel American army. This American is an idiot and does not [even] know where Iraq is... [It is therefore] mandatory for every electronic mujahid [to engage in this raiding]."

"Obviously, you should post your contribution... as an American... You should correspond with visitors to this forum, [bringing to their attention] the frustrating situation of their troops in Iraq... You should invent stories about American soldiers you have [allegedly] personally known (as classmates... or members in a club who played baseball and tennis with you) who were drafted to Iraq and then committed suicide while in service by hanging or shooting themselves..."

"Also, write using a sad tone, and tell them that you feel sorry for your [female] neighbor or co-worker who became addicted to alcohol or drugs... because her poor fiancé, a former soldier in Iraq, was paralyzed or [because] his legs were amputated... [Use any story] which will break their spirits, oh brave fighter for the sake of God..."

"You should enter into debate or respond only if it is extremely necessary... Your concern should [only] be introducing topics which... will cause [them to feel] frustration and anger towards their government..., which will... render them hostile to Bush... and his Republican Party and make them feel they must vote ton bring the troops back from Iraq as soon as possible."

That pretty much speaks for itself.

I would also like to point out how aware terrorists are of the battle for public opinion. This corresponds with the assertions I have made recently in regards to war protests; that the very people our soldiers are fighting are aware of the protests and the effect they have on public opinion. They know that if they simply wait long enough they won't have to defeat us, we will eventually give up and go home.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thanks Speaker For The Waste, Fraud and Abuse

Not too long ago Speaker Pelosi announced her strategy for not only balancing the budget, but also to change the atmosphere of Congress and improve its reputation. She vowed to seek out areas of "Waste, Fraud, and Abuse" that had plagued the previous legislators.

Well, Speaker Pelosi has gone out and shown the nation exactly the kind of legislative leader she is. Showing top form, she identified a number of extraneous spending measures snuck into a non-related bill. Here are some examples of this "waste, fraud and abuse":

$250 Million for milk
$120 Million for shrimp
$75 Million for peanuts
$25 Million for spinach
$15 Million for rice

Were these spending measures discussed and debated on their merits? Were they pinpointed by Congress as special situations in need of federal monetary assistance? No, they were snuck into a totally unrelated bill in hopes it would pass without anyone noticing. This fits in perfectly with Speaker Pelosi's campaign against "waste, fraud, and abuse."

Too bad she's the one responsible for them.

You see, Ms. Pelosi wanted to pass a bill that would force the US to leave Iraq. Problem is, she wasn't sure she had enough votes to get it passed. Rather than debate the bill on its merits, Ms. Pelosi resorted to bribery. Each one of these spending projects is earmarked for the home districts of Representatives who for whatever reason were on the fence leading up to the vote. The bribes total $20 Billion.

I hope it was worth it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Speak Up And Speak Out: The Portland Protest March

I don't know, Geoffrey, why would veterans groups want to stage a counter-protest?

The Portland Insight had reporters and photographers at the march who verified what went on ("It's all a lie. Period.").

The news outlet wrote an editorial titled, "Rudeness Mars Peace Message".

Rudeness? I don't know about you, but I didn't watch that video and think, golly that was rude.

From the editorial:

This splinter group of protesters showed its support for “peace” by burning a U.S. soldier in effigy. It exhibited its supposedly pacifist nature by knocking a police officer off his bike — an action that brought out the police riot squad.

Perhaps the most disturbing scene of the afternoon, however, involved the man who pulled down his pants in front of women and children and defecated on a burning U.S. flag. This disgusting act actually elicited cheers from some members of the crowd, but we hope that the emotion it produces in the community is one of revulsion.

The editorial claims there were 15,000 protesters in the march. If the people depicted in the editorial and the pictures and the video were just a minority splinter group denounced by the real peace activists, why didn't a single member of that 15,000 strong march speak up?

They were activist enough to speak out about actions taking place halfway around the world, but apparently not activist enough to speak up when the atrocity happens right in front of them.

Hat Tip: The Stupid Shall Be Punished

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Don't Confuse Me With The Facts


Geoffrey has offered an apology, of sorts, on his blog.

I say of sorts because while this line,

"For my tone, for my shortness, and for my rudeness I apologize.",

sounds like an apology, this line,

"I mean no disrespect to those who hold views different from mine, but the simple truth is that, for me, because of the utter failure in every way this Administration has been and continues to be, I do not believe that conservative views as they are currently constituted in the United States have any credibility or should be accommodated as having any credibility. If this offends, I offer no apologies",

casts just a dash of suspicion onto his sincerity.

I wish I had the time to go find a picture of a kid plugging his ears saying "I can't hear you, I can't hear you...!" because that fits this so well.

I recently alluded to a counter-protest that occurred last Saturday in Washington DC. These counter-protesters were ridiculed by Geoffrey Kruse-Safford on his blog. I thought he profoundly misunderstood the motivation behind the march, so I attempted to educate him.

Here's what I wrote:

According to the NY Times, Saturday's protest was organized by the ANSWER coalition. Which, of course, is a splinter group from the Worker's World Party.

Here is an example of these protestors and what they have done in the past.

As for why people might think these groups would deface the monuments in Washington, it might surprise you to know that it's happened before. Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, to name a few.

So when a protest is organized by a well known socialist group, and these groups have a history of vandalizing war memorials, I don't think it's terribly odd for a group of veterans to feel it necessary to protect them this time around.

Wanna know how he responded? I quote:

It's all a lie. Period.

I couldn't care less about anything you say here

Honestly, I don't care what you say

You have a right to your freedom of speech, and I have a right to my freedom to ignore you for many good reasons.

OOOO, they burned a flag! Call out the constitutional amendment! I swear, if I ever attend a gay wedding ceremony, I will burn a whole bushel of flags to cook the hot dogs at the reception! You people are pathetic.

Glad we could have this little chat.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Worthy Mission- Mark Daily: Why I Joined

In my last post I linked to Mark Daily's MySpace page through the words "worthy mission." I think this fallen soldier's writings eloquently state the reasons we should all support our troops and their mission in Iraq. Here is the full transcript:

Why I Joined:

This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam's government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba'ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq's neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this.

Is this why I joined?

Yes. Much has been said about America's intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as "oil" or "terrorism," favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade.

And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck"

Mark Daily

Monday, March 19, 2007

Thanks For The Support, Dad

The following was printed in the Times-News Sunday, April 8, 2007

Boise had an anti-war rally over the weekend. The parents of a medic in Iraq spoke at the rally, and were quoted as saying, "It's hard to maintain morale with a lack of a mission."

Perhaps the bigger threat to troop morale is having the parents of your unit's medic speaking at anti-war rallies.

Or maybe it's having members of Congress essentially buying, and even more perverse, selling, votes in order to pass legislation hastening withdrawal.

Maybe morale is hard to muster when news outlets pander to war protestors in Washington while ignoring or downplaying 30,000 respectful, US flag-waving, veteran supporters of a worthy mission.

I'm sure happy thoughts abounded when Jane Fonda, that great lover of America's military, was a noted speaker at last January's war protest.

How are we to expect our soldiers' morale to be high when we bombard them with political rhetoric that they have failed, that they're "stuck in Iraq" because they're stupid, and that their lives and the lives of their fallen have been "wasted" on a country and its citizens- citizens who, until recently, were ruled by a genocidal dictator allowed to maintain power by a world community more interested in his bribes than in stopping his atrocities; a world community apparently convinced that since he "contained" his murders to his own people, it didn't warrant intervention.

If troop morale is low, it would be because instead of giving hope and resolve to our soldiers and the people of Iraq, America tells them sorry, it's much too hard, the price is too high, it's time to quit and come home.

You'd Better Not Dissent, Even If You're On The Same Side

Contradict the "consensus"- get fired.

More Good News: US Troop Deaths Show Sunni Resilience

Joel at The Stupid Shall Be Punished hits the nail on the head.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wait, You Mean There's Good News?

Seen on the front page of the Times-News:

Some Progress May Mean Hope for Baghdad
Senate Debates Troop Withdrawal Measure

Anyone else see some inconsistency here?

Inconvenient Indeed

Wait a minute. I thought we had a consensus, that the science was settled, and that we had 10 years before global climate catastrophe.

The NY Times reported that perhaps just maybe the catastrophic claims are a bit overreaching,

But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.

“I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.”

And then of course there is the new British movie that directly refutes many of the claims made regarding man made global warming:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Idaho House Bill 248

The following letter was printed in the Times-News Monday, March 12, 2007.

House bill 248 was introduced by Representative Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls. If passed, it would allow women to see an ultrasound image of their baby before an abortion is performed.

It does not require doctors to do ultrasounds. It does not force women to see the ultrasound. It does require that a doctor who chooses to do an ultrasound must also tell the mother about it and give her the option of seeing it.

This bill would increase the knowledge that mothers have as they face a difficult decision regarding abortion, would most likely reduce the number of abortions performed in Idaho, and would do so well within the confines of existing law.

House bill 248 truly is win-win, and deserves the support of all Idahoans.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The "Loving Choice": My Discussions on Abortion

We women know when it is or is not the right time to bring a child into the world...We act out of compassion when we wait to have a child until the time when we can give it the kind of life every child deserves. We act out of love when we consider what we would be taking away from the child or children we already have if we brought another child into our family now...We women know the truth: That given certain circumstances, abortion is the most morally responsible and loving choice we can make."

-Jean Stewart Berg and Anne Baker

This quote in a nutshell represents the great majority of the pro-choice arguments I have encountered. It is designed to engender sympathetic feelings for women considering abortion, and take our minds off the fact that the "loving choice" is to end a human life.

The following are excerpts from various discussions I have had recently about abortion. It represents the exact reason I blog: to exchange ideas and learn through hearing others and having to ponder and defend my opinions. Through these discussions my conviction that abortion is unjust has been strengthened.

Almost immediately after writing "A Philisophical Study of Abortion" I stumbled onto another abortion debate. Jen's Green Journal had just begun a series of posts discussing abortion, and I came in midstream:

Once again alienated, you miss the point. You are defining the beginning of life on your religious view points. Do you have any non-religious proof that shows clearly that a fully developed nervous system, fully developed brain and a "soul" are all present at the point of conception or during the early stages of clump of cells or embryo?

If you cannot without a doubt prove this without religious arguments, than how can you compare a clump of cells to my life as a fully developed human being,with a fully developed nervous system and brain with emotions, memories, relationships? You can't without religion and you know it. There fore you are using YOUR religion to deny MY rights.

Jen had been in a back-and-forth with someone calling himself "alienated wannabe" when she wrote this. Notice her use of the term "fully developed". It will be a recurring theme, and one I try to address with her later on with mixed results. Alienated hadn't responded to her "religion challenge", so I did:

This website ( might prove helpful in the "religious inquiry". Is it only religion that teaches the baby is a human? Jen has argued that most abortions occur in the first trimester, so this pregnancy tracker website shows the development that occurs during this time. It's pretty amazing.

Gender is determined at conception. Human DNA is present at conception. I particularly like this quote, "The genetic makeup (the characteristics that make this new individual different from anyone else in the world) is determined at the moment of fertilization."

During the first couple of weeks a heart and circulatory system are formed. The foundation of the nervous system is formed. By week five blood is pumping, all four chambers of the heart are functioning, and the brain and lungs appear. At week six there's a pancreas, nostrils, and intestines. At week seven teeth actually form beneath the gums. The baby continues to develop rapidly in the next couple of weeks, gaining bones, a tongue, joints, fingerprints, hair, fingernails, and will curve her fingers around an object placed in the palm of her hand.

Clearly the baby is more than just a "clump of cells." She is a human.

Also notice that no response is given when the demanded scientific evidence is actually provided. That too is a recurring theme.

On a new thread Jen posts the following quote and question, which I then answer.:

"Pro-life advocates claim they want the fetus to be treated as if it were a born person. Well, even if the fetus were a person, and even if the fetus had a right to life, the fetus has no right of access to a woman's body or liberty, because no born person has such a right.
* Once born, for example, no child has a right to even a pint of blood from a parent-- much less to more invasive donations, such as bone marrow. Thus, although parents have a duty to care for their children, this duty does not extend to the requirement that parents donate parts of their body to their children, even if the lives of their children are dependent upon those donations.
* What is more, if someone coercively took a pint of blood from a parent to give to the child, the government would protect the parent from such nonconsensual bodily intrusion, not the child. If we were to treat the fetus as if it were a born person, therefore, the government would protect the woman, not the fetus, when the fetus intrudes without consent upon a woman's body and liberty.
Consent added to choice, therefore, strengthens abortion rights. Even if a woman consents to sex, she retains her right to bodily integrity and liberty. This means she retains the right to consent to the condition of pregnancy resulting from the fetus. If a woman does not consent to pregnancy, she is similarly situated with others who are the victims of non-consensual intrusion of their bodies and liberty."

So being a life support system for a child you created only applies before the child is born? Why doesn't it apply after? If we are to apply law consistently in the event of eliminated legal abortion, then all parents should be forced to give blood, kidney, bone marrow or what have you to the child in the event he/she needs one to survive. Right now they are not forced to, as women are not forced to have their bodies used as life-support systems for a fetus if she chooses not to.

If you don't agree with making it consistent, what changed to make the child less important after birth than before?

Is there a raging epidemic of dying children in need of bone marrow with parents unwilling to give? When that epidemic reaches upwards of 45 million children, perhaps we could discuss some legislative action.

But in a more realistic sense, yes, our laws are currently designed to force parents to care for their children. If the parents do not want the child, they may give her to someone else to raise. If the parents are neglectful of their duties, our laws authorize the state to forcibly take the child away and give her to someone else.

The point is that the government does not force any parent to act as a life support system after they are born, when they can feel pain and process the fear of death. It is therefore inconsistent to demand that any parent act as a life-support system against their will before the nervous system, fully functioning brain and (for religious folks) before "ensoulment" occurs -- in other words before they are a fully formed human.

There's that "fully functioning" again.

Jen's quote argues that consent of the mother is required for the fetus to have a right to remain in the womb. This is exactly what Judith Thomson argues in her paper. I covered the problems with that here, as well as in my discussion with Democracy Lover here.

Jen made a couple of posts revolving around unsourced statistics. Here is one:

I just found out today that 66% of abortions are sought by women that are already mothers. This is a strong indication to me that many of the women are making the best choices they can for the children they already have.

It kind of meshes with a few stories I've heard the past couple of weeks as I conversed with people over this ridiculous abortion ban bill (HB235 S1).

There were two stories I heard this week about women who were married with children but at the end of their capabilities when they found out they were pregnant unexpectedly -- I think at least one was failed birth control. They got abortions and were happy with their decision.

I heard another story this week about a woman who had raised most of her 8 kids to adulthood when she found out she was pregnant near 50 years old. She had the child because this was pre-Roe v. Wade. She apparently went a little nuts (no indication if child raising was the reason, but if I had to raise 8 kids and was just about done and found out that I had to start all over again at 50 I would go insane myself -- heck, it would take a lot fewer kids to drive me insane) and his mother's emotional state while raising him had a very negative affect on that 9th child.

Another story I heard this week: a friend told me that her mother-in-law admitted to her that if she had been a young woman these days rather than her own, she would not have had children; she said that even though she loved her children, she never enjoyed being a mom.

These stories are hard to hear -- we want to picture mothers as unconditionally loving and self-sacrificing. Many women have a difficult time coming out of the "I don't like being a mommy" closet because they do love their kids and it's a taboo in our society for a woman, much less a mother, not to be a "kid person".

Just because we are all born with the physical equipment to have children and sexual drives, doesn't mean we are all meant to be mothers.

There were a number of comments to this post previous to mine, and they all fall under the "loving choice" umbrella. I thought some additional statistics would prove helpful, but they did not convince Jen:

4-8% of abortions are performed because the mother "has enough children already."

0.2% are done because the life of the mother is at risk.

1% are done because the physical health of the mother is at risk.

0.33% are done because the mother was forced to be pregnant. ie rape or incest.

About 80% of abortions are performed on unmarried women.

45% of women getting an abortion have never given birth.

68.9% of abortions are done on women between the ages of 20 and 34."

About 80% of abortions are performed on unmarried women.'

The 66% of women who are already mothers may not be married -- you don't have to be married to be a mother -- in fact, are you Repubs the ones that criticize women for continuing to produce children without a husband? Oh I forgot -- women should be celebate until menopause unless they can permenantly catch a man.

"68.9% of abortions are done on women between the ages of 20 and 34." -great statistic, yes it's true that the prime fertile years are 20 -34 years old. Fertility declines in the late 30s and menopause can happen as early as the early 40s. Men also decline in fertility as they age, and it's still not very common to see a lot of randy older women having unprotected sex with young guys, which is still kind of a rarity, there won't be as many unplanned pregnancies in the older category.

Then an anonymous poster wrote this, followed by Jen's response:

I think the real issue is this: when is a baby a baby? My wife is pregnant with our first child. At 12 weeks, we saw an ultrasound of our baby. It has arms, legs, a beating heart, and even fingernails (though you couldn't see the fingernails, I've read that they're there). It has brain waves, too. What else does it need to be considered life rather than just "potential life"?

And at 12 weeks, we could legally abort the baby that's in my wife's womb, and that thought disgusts me.

Nice Spin Job part 2
"It has arms, legs, a beating heart, and even fingernails (though you couldn't see the fingernails"

People who aren't alive also have fingernails, arms and legs.

Scientists can make a heart beat in a petrie dish.

I'd need to see more information on the brain waves, as without a fully function nervous system it seems unlikely to mean much.

"So if you don't want unwanted babies, don't choose to have sex."

How very archaic. Straight out of the dark ages.

You must be exausted from all the funerals
1/4 of all fertized eggs get washed out in the monthly period. And that doesn't even address the embryos that are further developed that go with the period as well and unbeknownst to the mother. All those poor babies that will never get a chance at life! That's a lot of dead fully living babies.

By this time I admit I had become frustrated and a little exasperated with her snide remarks and avoidance of factual discussion. So I tried to get right to the point:

Sarcasm and contempt don't become you. Nor does it help this discussion.

You tried to paint a picture of abortion as women simply already having too many kids to care for. The facts show that that is the case in as few as 4% of the abortions performed in this country.

You have argued that abortion is necessary for the sake of the mother's health or even life. The facts show that that is the case in as few as 1% of the abortions in the US.

You have attempted to show that abortion is for the slight chance that contraceptives don't work. The facts show that 46% of abortions are the result of not using contraceptives.

You argue that it is Talibanish to expect people to control their desires, when the truth is that our society demands that all the time, in many circumstances.

You (and others) argue that the real problem is that we need additional awareness and use of contraceptives, but the facts show that 17% of abortions are the result of failed contraceptives.

Some argue that it is our young girls that need abortions, but the fact is that 68% of abortions are for women 20-34 years old.

You have tried to argue that science proves that life does not begin before birth, but the facts show that a fetus has many of the physical characterstics you do, has unique human DNA as you do, and is responsive to its environment as you are.

It is clear that a pregnant woman has a human life inside of her. An important philosopher stated: "if you are conceived by human parents, you are human." To argue otherwise is to deny humanity from many who are obviously human beings.

At this point I was pretty much the only one left still challenging Jen. Here is how it unfolded:

Authoritarian patriarical control doesn't become you, dear anon.

I question your statistics because I've seen far different statistics -- we could probably both find statistics that contradict the others.

"fetus has many of the physical characterstics you do, has unique human DNA "

Ever single skin cell that sheds and becomes dust has DNA -- this is not sarcasm, I'm not buying the DNA prsent means there's a fully formed life -- DNA does not prove there is a soul, fully functioning nervous system, fully developed brain -- there is only the potential for these things until a certain point in the pregnancy, after which a fetus is protected under Roe v. Wade .

Oh good, more name calling. Why is it that if I disagree with you I must be "authoritarian" and "patriarical"?

I gave you the sources of my statistics. They are based on the CDC and the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is the research branch of Planned Parenthood. Feel free to share your statistics with their sources so we can better understand any discrepancies that may exist.

A dead skin cell is far different biologically than a fertilized egg. My source for that is my old high school biology textbook.

DNA does not prove there is a fully functioning brain. It does not even prove there are fully functioning limbs. But the lack of those things doesn't deny humanity to my uncle, who was born with many impairments that prevent him from ever walking, seeing, fully communicating, or using the left side of his body.

So far your arguments in favor of abortion also advocate giving my grandparents the "choice" to terminate his life.


You have probably received the brunt of my frustration as you are the umpteenth person to use the same arguments against choice that I've heard ad nauseum, which I have had to argue as to why you have no right to dictate laws about by body. I'm getting very tired of the debate.

I'm getting very tired of being told that I shouldn't have sex unless I'm married and fully prepared to raise a child for 20 years in exchange for the 20 minutes or so of fun. I'm tired of being told that I'm selfish because I don't fit some outdated idealized version of womanhood circa 1950.

You picture a sweet little baby being murdered, I picture women's and children's lives destroyed, poverty and long-term suffering. Our life experiences have given us completely different ways to view the same thing.

I'm not sure why you want to continue this debate -- you are so very sure that life begins at conception; I'm very sure that I won't cede my rights over my body and life to religious/superstitious beliefs that I don't share. Neither of us will convince the other.

Your comments on The World According to me:

"But let's be clear as to what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stance is on abortion:

Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.

In today's society, abortion has become a common practice, defended by deceptive arguments. Latter-day prophets have denounced abortion, referring to the Lord's declaration, "Thou shalt not . . . kill, nor do anything like unto it" (D&C 59:6). Their counsel on the matter is clear: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline. "

Having spent the first 19 years of my life as an active Mormon, I'm well aware how difficult it is to convince them of anything different than what the "church" says. They drill into your head every week that you belong to the only true church (and several times on fast Sunday). If you belong to the only true church, then the logic follows that anything said by the leaders of the only true church is the ultimate truth of the Universe. I don't have the debating skills to compete with your certainty based on this -- which having had it once myself, I've come to realize takes a lot of different life experiences to wake you up.

Since your religion believes that gender is an eternal experience and that the ultimate destiny for women who make it to the top of the Celestial Kingdom and the production of spirit babies, it would come as no surprise that one who follows your religion would believe that women who don't want "God's plan" for them would be unnatural and "selfish". This would further be confirmed if most of the women you know really enjoyed their roles as mothers, as many -- but far from all -- women do. And how many would dare "come out of the not-wanting-to-center-life-around-children closet" if they don't with such beliefs?

When I try to view what I've said about abortion from my 19 year-old active-Mormon perspective, I'm aware that I'm wasting my time in arguing. And while you are not me at 19, you probably see it close enough to that perspective to make all this considerable time I'm spending on this one subject a waste.

So lets agree to disagree, shall we?

I have continued this debate because I enjoy rational exchange of ideas, and I find that exchange to be valuable. I can empathize with your frustration at responding to various commentors on various posts. However, I think you'll find that I have not used any of the arguments you've listed as being so frustrating to you. I have structured my arguments factually, cited my sources, and responded to each of your arguments.

Your final response to me implies that I am "just" a Mormon, and so cannot think for myself. You say that you used to be a Mormon, but that your life experience, including raising two children at a young age, is what caused you to "wake up."

Though I have yet to awaken from my Mormon-induced stupor, I will share some of my own life experiences with you. My wife and I had three children before our 28th birthday, two of whom were conceived despite our use of birth control (so much for sex education). During this time I worked full time, went to University full time, and never made more than $10 an hour. At one point I was waking up at 5am so I could catch the train at 6, and didn't return home until 8 that night, only to have to do homework once I got there. It was hard. My own life experiences have taught me quite well what it means to raise a child at a young age. In fact, I raised three.

That being said, I think most of the excuses for wanting an abortion depend on one very important thing: is the fetus a human. No matter how hard to raise or how inconvenient the baby may be, abortion is still not an option if she is indeed a human. My positive argument is borrowed from John Noonan: If you are conceived by human parents, you are human. I wrote a quite extensive post on this not too long ago.

In reading through all of your posts on the subject, your argument seems to grant humanity only to those with a "fully developed brain and fully developed nervous system." My complaint with that definition of humanity is that it denies personhood to many born people lacking those things, including my uncle who was born with many handicaps, such as blindness, inability to walk or say more than a few words, and a complete lack of use of the left side of his body. His brain is far from being fully developed, and while he lives it never will be. He does not even possess the "potential" to be fully developed.

Although there are a few people out there that disagree, I don't think that terminating the lives of premies, newborns, the elderly, or people like my uncle is justified.

"premies, newborns, the elderly, or people like my uncle is justified."

This is about embryos and fetuses, 90% of which are at 12 weeks gestation or less. This is not about premies, newborns, the elderly or people like your uncle. Abortion is not allowed under Roe v. Wade after a fetus becomes viable -- which eliminates all those that you mention above from being "terminated".

The "just a Mormon" thing: I have been fortunate to get to know a lot of Mormons who are liberal on a lot of subjects in the last few years, which has been a surprise to me because I certainly didn't know any during my days as a Mormon, and some of it contradicts what I know of Mormonism from all those years of sunday school, primary, young women's plus the 4 years of seminary I had. I'm aware that not all Mormons believe alike.

From the quote that you posted on "The World According To Me" from your church leaders:

"Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.

In today's society, abortion has become a common practice, defended by deceptive arguments. Latter-day prophets have denounced abortion, referring to the Lord's declaration, "Thou shalt not . . . kill, nor do anything like unto it" (D&C 59:6). Their counsel on the matter is clear: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline. "

I bolded the parts which I think apply to our arguments here which show a religious bias to the discussion. How can you have a rational debate with me when I, according to your leaders, am "using deceptive arguments?" If you believe this quote there can be no rational debate -- I will always be using "deceptive arguments". My experience as a Mormon had given me an insight into how hard it is to break through that kind of moral certainty with anything that contradicts it.

Thank you for sharing your story with me. I'm glad that you and your partner made the choice that best fit you.

I have shared some of my story of raising my first daughter as a single parent. I was one of the lucky ones -- I did get a lot of support from friends and a little from family, but even as one of the lucky ones I wouldn't wish some of the hell that I experienced on anyone. Had I been forced to into that and not chosen it for myself, it would have been far worse for both my daughter and myself.

I actually wrote a couple of replies to this, but didn't post any of them. Since she didn't really address any of my arguments, all of the replies I drafted seemed like a rerun.

The discussion I had with Jen showed me some things. When I present a detailed, sourced, factual argument it is generally met with silence. Here are a few more examples of this from various posts over at NeonPrimeTime's blog:

To come to an a priori decision about the beginning of life is to ignore the simple fact that life begins at birth. Our technology assists those born before 38-40 weeks of gestation to survive, but that simply because we have the techinical ability to assist premies in their post-natal development does not mean we can move the whole life-clock backwards. On the other hand, I think it safe to say that those premies who are born and are assisted through development are indeed as alive as achild who gestates the full term.
I agree with Democracy Lover that real, actual life is always to take precedent over the potential life of the fetus, even a fetus past30-32 weeks of of gestation, because it is still not actually alive in any meaningful sense. There is a real distinction, a substantive distinction, between something that is potential, and something actual. 20 years ago I was a potential concert pianist. Today, I am not actually a concert pianist, because that is not that path I chose. I have the potential to do all sorts of things today, but only some of them will become actual. You see, potential things do not exist, any more than the independent life of the fetus.

"Life begins at birth"

Why? The difference between my children the day before they were born and the day after is basically nil, except for location. Even the most famous and influential abortion advocate, Judith Jarvis Thomson, stated in her "A Defense of Abortion" that life probably starts while the baby is still in the womb.

When my wife was pregant with our oldest daughter our doctor was going out of the country just before my wife's due date. So the doctor advised us to induce labor. So we scheduled the birth. We went in Saturday morning, they gave my wife the medication to induce, monitored everything, gave her some pain medication, and a few hours later we had a baby girl. But it wasn't a "natural" birth. My wife's body didn't decide on its own that the baby was ready to come out. But surely it was still alive and human.

Geoffrey, I read your argument to mean that location is the biggest indicator of human life. You argue that life begins at birth, and that just because we have the technology to assist prematurely born babies to survive and thrive doesn't necessarily mean that life begins at that "premature" date in the womb. But then you argue that these very same premies are indeed alive.

The only difference I can see between a prematurely born baby and one that just hasn't been born yet is location.

This was met with silence.

I'm not sure who Cameron knows that has no self-awareness and cannot cherish or even be aware of life, perhaps he can provide examples.

How about any number of sick and afflicted people in the world. Does a person afflicted with Alzheimers have an awareness of others? Does a person born into this world without the ability to feel pain not get personhood rights in DL's view? Are they not completely human?

What of a man I know who was born with severe complications. His brain is irreversibly damaged and does not function properly. The left side of his body is malformed and stunted. He cannot walk. He cannot see. He can say only a few words. What of him? Though I see him often, he does not know who I am. Is he not human? Does he not deserve protection?

Or perhaps less extreme is the case of a newborn baby. She is not self aware. For some time she thinks her mother is herself. Her body is not fully formed, though is progressing rapidly. She is completely dependent upon others for survival. She does not "cherish" life. Geoffrey has already eloquently stated how children "cannot distinguish between the outside world and their own desires." Do they not deserve protection because of that?

More silence.

cnn link

Miami - A premature baby that doctors say spent less time in the womb than any other surviving infant is scheduled for release from a South Florida hospital Tuesday.

Amillia Sonja Taylor was just 9 1/2 inches long and weighed less than 10 ounces when she was born Oct. 24. She was delivered after just under 22 weeks of pregnancy; full-term births come after 37 to 40 weeks.

The baby has experienced respiratory problems, a very mild brain hemorrhage and some digestive problems, but none of the health concerns are expected to pose long-term problems, her doctors said.

Is it not true that because of science, the dynamics of the Abortion debate continue to change? We now have a live and well baby after just 22 weeks?

Democracy Lover said...
I don't see that this changes the debate at all. It all depends on what you are arguing. If you are arguing that abortion is evil because the fetus is a potential human life, then this will perhaps bolster your case, but since that view is not shared by the pro-choice side anyway, it won't be much help.

Cameron said...
It changes things because Roe v Wade is based on viability, which at the time was about 24 weeks.

And this isn't something new either. Sandra Day O'Connor has said that Roe was on a "collision course with itself" because of its reliance on viability. This baby is proof of that.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...
Actually, it changes nothing. The artificial sustenance of life, either before viability or after viability, is not an argument, but an assertion that technology has altered certain natural facts. In truth, most babies "born" at 22 weeks are called miscarriages. Luck and a whole lot of machinery are involved here. A single instance does not discount any kind of theory.

neonprimetime said...
Can you truly have it both ways though? Can you continue preaching science and allowing us to probably someday have a child born at 22 weeks or even 20 weeks and be perfectly healthy? If you continue preaching that science, then to me you're being hypocritcal by then turning around and saying that a fetus is not alive yet, when the very science you love is saying that yes the baby is alive.

Cameron said...
Geoffrey misses the point that abortion was legalized in this country based on viability, even if the 24 week old needed medical attention in order to survive.

That is what our Supreme Court ruled was the basis for "life", which is why Sandra Day O'Connor said what she did, and why this newborn baby is a big deal. According to Roe's 24 week standard, she's not even a person yet.

Yep, nothing.

I think the biggest problem with the abortion debate in the US is apathy. The majority of Americans don't have a strong opinion either way and so the ones left to fight over it are the folks with the "baby killer" signs outside of Planned Parenthood and the folks with the "I had an abortion and there's nothing you can do about it you backwards hillbilly" t-shirts. These people only succeed in yelling and ticking each other off. This just drives the rest of america away from the discussion.

Frankly, that's the problem with politics in general.

Democracy Lover said...
If you guys really want to reduce abortions, then we should start by understanding why they happen in the first place. There's a study on this of course. Here are the top 3 reasons in order:

1. Having a baby would dramatically change my life (interfere with education, job, or care of other children). 74%
2. Can't afford a baby. 73%
3. Don't want to be a mother or in a bad relationship (abusive, about to break up, etc.) 48%

The best way to reduce 1 and 3 is to insure that all women (and men) have access to high quality contraceptives.

Reason #2 has to do with our lack of services for young mothers. If a young woman knew that she would not pay anything for the health care related to her delivery or for the herself or the baby later, and if there were high quality day care available at low cost, many of these women might make a different choice.

We could also make the 'morning after' pill widely available over the counter, and provide good sex education in our schools - all of these would reduce abortion without interfering with anyone's rights, or involving big government in private medical decisions.

Think about it.

Cameron said...

17% of abortions are performed because of failed contraceptives.

Canada, with its "free" healthcare, has the same abortion rate as the US.

US abortion rates have fallen since 1981, despite our lack of "free" healthcare.

This is an interesting analysis of the falling abortion rates since 2000, despite President Bush's hateful policies towards the poor. (just a tinge of sarcasm there)

This analysis also tackles some of DL's reasons for women getting an abortion. It shows how DL's numbers in the 70% range are a little misleading because, "these percentages include women each giving multiple reasons, it would be erroneous to select a single reason as decisive in these decisions to obtain abortions. In the 1988 AGI survey, only 21% cited economics as the most important reason, and only 13% cited issues with the mate as the most important reason."

This page has many interesting analyses. Scroll down a little and you'll find some graphs examining the role of unemployment, marriage prospects, minimum wage, and income in abortion numbers. The data shows that there is little to no correlation. In fact, there is more correlation to abortion in areas with higher per capita income and higher education spending than there is to poverty and unemployment rates.

Another tidbit in regards to DL's argument for socialized medicine is that many countries that already have this healthcare method have similar abortion rates to the US. Two countries though have markedly lower rates. The difference between Belgium and the Netherlands abortion rate and other countries' with socialized healthcare is that those two countries also have mandatory waiting periods for abortion.

Again, more silence. Now I will grant that not everyone will always go back to check for comments after they've said their peice. But I do see a recurring theme.

Nevertheless, these discussions have given me much food for thought, and an opportunity to really explore my own beliefs. I spent alot of time and effort researching, pondering, and writing my "study of abortion", and it seemed that as soon as I had it posted, the abortion topic sprung up all around me. In addition to the preceding posts, I also had an interesting conversation on the online version of the Times-News, and there is a spirited discussion going on over at the Agora as well.

For Holly